March 24, 2007

Who done it?


Two weeks ago I went to confess my sins.

My confession was simple and straightforward.

The priest responded with a few words of
"advice" . . .
and assigned me a penance.

I voiced a prayer of contrition and asked God for forgiveness.

The priest absolved me.

The whole rite took about one minute.

His "advice" . . . ?

He said several times,
"What happens in this room is not about you;
it's about God."


Who sinned against God and neighbor?

I did.

Who was responsible for those sins?

I was.

Whom did God want inside that confessional?

Me.

Who confessed his sins?

I did.

Who received a penance?

I did.

Who expressed contrition and asked for forgiveness?

I did.

Who received absolution?

I did.

What did the priest say in absolving me?

"I absolve YOU . . . ."

On the other hand,
if that priest had it right . . . .

"Listen, God!
I sinned,
but it's not about me.
It's all about
YOU.
YOU owe me."



13 Comments:

Blogger faithemmanuel said...

I don't understand what this priest meant. I'm going to puzzle about this one all day. -Faith

1:48 PM  
Blogger 4HisChurch said...

Well, of course, but confession, at its root, is about how we sin against GOD and how we are asking GOD's forgiveness. Its not about what God owes us, its about what we owe GOD.

6:35 PM  
Blogger tara said...

Father, I don't understand what the priest was trying to say either?? Last night I went to confession, and waiting in line, feeling great shame in my sinfulness, it felt like it was me, "shaking," getting "dizzy," about to "pass out," knowing I would have to tell the priest my misdeeds. I thought confession was about us, in great humility asking for forgiveness.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

I trust the priest was well-intentioned.

However, my opinion is that his "advice" was corny and misplaced.

If I approach a sacrament with the incorrect disposition, I can negate the effects of what God offers me in the sacrament.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Mark Cephas Tan said...

if u don't mind me asking, what did the priest meant when he said 'its all about God"?

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Panda Rosa said...

I can't figure what the point is either, but I swear the picture looks like "Only one of you in this room did kill Old Man March, and that person IS...."

7:21 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

God does not have a need to forgive me.

He does not have an obligation to forgive me.

That's why forgiveness is a grace, gratia, from the word gratis, meaning, "free."

What happens inside a confessional is-- yes-- about God forgiving freely.

However, it doesn't happen unless I recognize my need and my obligation to seek forgiveness.

My guess about why the priest said what he said?

Perhaps it was his generic "automated response" to all penitents. Maybe he operates from a "pop psychology" (unprofessional psychology) perspective that says that "Catholic guilt" is unhealthy.

There is an unproductive way to have "Catholic guilt." However, there is also a necessary way to have "Catholic guilt."

The good form of "Catholic guilt" is to have and to listen to an informed conscience about what is healthy and what is unhealthy, what is correct and what is incorrect, and, most essentially, what is virtuous and what is sinful.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

yes i go with the 'pop psychology'

i describe the funniest confession i ever saw when i was probably about 8/9 over on Mulier fortis if she publishes it soon..

11:21 AM  
Blogger Hidden One said...

From a somewhat different perspective...

Who was sinned against?

God.

Who doesn't love you any less because of those sins?

God.

Who wanted you inside that confessional?

God.

Who commanded that you confess your sins?

God.

Who wants your participation in the Sacrament which involves your penance?

God.

Who saw your true contrition and forgave you?

God.

By who's power and authority was absolution given?

God's.

Who gave the priest the authority to absolve you?

God.

...

So you see, it's all in how you look at it. (Similar cases can be made on both sides about prayer and worship.)

Sincerely in Christ,
Hidden One.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Hidden One said...

Oh, I forgot one part...

"Listen, God!
I sinned against YOU,
so it's not about me.
It's all about YOU.
YOU still love me."

:P

In all seriousness, though, I'm not really [hmmm... what's it called?] 'presuming to instruct a clergyman as a member of the lay' or something, I really just thought it'd be an interesting excersize... [hmmmm... guess mentioning that I have a penchant for arguing the 'avocatus diaboli' would probably be a bad thing, considering...]

Anyway, I'm kinda glad I happened upon this blog in my wonderings. Nice to read.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

The fact of a sacrament is that it's always about both God and the Christian.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Hidden One said...

Agreed. That's why, I think, both arguments argue for the involvement of one or the other, but not against the argument of the other or one. [Sort of like the whole Calvinist Sola Fide argument, IME.]

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Might I suggest that the priest is a closet Lutheran. It is all about God because it is God who unconditionally forgives our transgressions. Whatever penance we accept is a voluntary act of contrition to relieve our own sense of guilt but which does not affect our redemption. Go and sin no more.

9:25 PM  

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